India - Questioning Halal slaughter

02 Dec 2009

 How often before digging into the food at an eatery does one enquire about the way in which chicken or mutton served there was  slaughtered? ‘Rarely’ is what many people would say. Hotels and restaurants are also aware that customers don’t always try to know if the non-vegetarian food there is of the halal or jhatka variety.
While this may be a non-issue for the liberal minded, for people who are stricter about their religious beliefs, the distinction is a matter of faith and its violation amounts to sacrilege. When Harmanjot Kaur (name changed) asked the staff at a Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlet about the variety of non-vegetarian food there, she was shocked to hear that it was halal. She said, “I don’t want a ban on halal. But why don?t they tell customers about what they are serving?”
An official spokesperson at KFC admitted, “Yes, we serve halal because that is our global mandate.”
But KFC is not the only joint serving halal. Hotels like Taj also do the same. “The slaughtering technique of our mutton and chicken is mechanized and we source it from Godrej. This poultry and mutton is halal since the machines are only equipped to slaughter in that manner,” said the hotel’s general manager, Anil Malhotra.
A Godrej spokesperson concurred with his statement.
General manager (tourism) of Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO), A K Malhotra, said, “We serve jhatka meet at our hotels as more than 95% clients prefer that in this part of the country. In other parts also, the population of halal consumers is in the minority. At CITCO eateries and hotels, halal is only prepared on demand.”
The staff at McDonald’s and Republic of Chicken took the middle path by saying their supply of non-vegetarian foodstuffs came from a mechanized plant and that was what they told their clients if they asked.
KFC officials stated that none of the eating joints told customers about the variety of meat they served.
However, Harmanjot maintained, “It is usually taken for granted the non-vegetarian food served here would be jhatka since majority of people here are either Sikh or Hindu, whose religion prohibits them from eating halal, which is called kuttha in Gurbani.”
Punjab and Haryana High Court lawyer Ranjan Lakhanpal stated it was illegal to feed people food banned in their religion. “They should advertise the kind of non-vegetarian food served there,” he added.  


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